This post was updated April 2020.
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Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo
The thing that I try to do with these review posts is clarify which language learning resources are best for which type of language learner. This post is all about Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo, which is….a lot. They’re 3 different resources that specialize in 3 different methods of language learning, meant for 3 different types of language learners.
And I’ve already kind of touched base on some of these differences. If you made it here and you’ve already decided that one of these options isn’t for you, I’ve already made some comparisons that might be more handy for you:
However, if you’re not quite there yet, worry not! Let’s compare and contrast all 3 of these against each other, so you can decide which language learning resource will work best for you: Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo.
First, let’s start with the go-to app for anybody who has any interest in learning a language. Duolingo is the most popular kid on the block, and one of the reasons for this is the sheer amount of languages offered:
Yeah, I know, that’s a lot of languages!
So, Duolingo’s specialty is beginner stuff. Download the free app on your phone, and play quick little games to learn basic words and phrases: the boy, the girl, the boy likes dogs, etc. etc. It’s all fill-in-the-blank stuff. It’s easy.
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Which means Duolingo is a pretty decent start to learning a language. As you go through the questions, there are threads that you can click onto in case you have a question about it, and you’ll generally either find an explanation to your question or a link to another resource. If not, feel free to ask your question yourself!
These little mini threads are my favorite part of Duolingo, and it’s hard to find that elsewhere. Kwiziq does a similar thing, for example, but the languages offered are incredibly limited (only Spanish and French), which is one reason why it’s not being compared in this post.
RELATED: Kwiziq vs Babbel
Duolingo has also been adding podcasts and stories, but I’m not going to go too deep into that, since I’ve already addressed them in my Duolingo review. Basically, they’re okay for immersion, but if immersion is what you’re looking for…I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
Duolingo is for low-key, low-expectation language learners who are either just starting out in a language, or prefer to dabble in a bunch of different languages, as opposed to getting an in-depth understanding of a language or learning to have conversations.
Next up is another language-learning resource that has been around the block over and over again, so you’ve probably heard of it: Rosetta Stone. You’ve also probably seen the price tag and wondered if you really wanted to commit that badly, or if it’s even worth it.
If the online membership is too much money for you right off the bat (even though that new lifetime membership deal is a pretty decent price and more on par with other language learning resources, it’s still a pretty penny), you can go the route of the physical disks. There is a difference between the two, which I address more thoroughly in my Rosetta Stone review.
Okay, so the price is out of the way. It’s a giant red flag for a lot of us, especially considering Duolingo’s price (free), so I wanted to be clear. Now that it is, what’s to know about Rosetta Stone?
RELATED: Rosetta Stone Review
Much like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone is available in a plethora of languages and only takes you through beginner words/concepts. Rosetta Stone is available in:
- Spanish (Latin America)
- Spanish (Spain)
- English (American)
- English (British)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
Unlike Duolingo, however, is how you learn. The big thing to understand about Rosetta Stone is you will never ever see or hear words in another language other than the one you’re learning.
In this way, Rosetta Stone really pulls off immersion very well (which Duolingo lacks in), because you’re learning in the same exact way as you would if you dropped into a foreign country with nobody around you speaking English (or any other native language).
Therefore, Rosetta Stone is excellent at teaching you to learn a new language correctly. There’s no guessing. Like at all.
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However, the heavy price tag isn’t the only potential problem with Rosetta Stone. If you have experience in the language, it’s boring. If you’re learning French, for example (like I did), but you’re already fairly well-versed in Spanish, Rosetta Stone will be incredibly boring and monotonous to you.
This is because Rosetta Stone really drills these ideas into your brain. This is wonderful for fresh brand new language learners, but if you’re not new to this game, or at least not new to the family of languages you’re looking to learn, I wouldn’t recommend this resource to you.
Finally we come to the last player in the Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo debate: Babbel. And because this is the third player, and we have to compare and contrast against BOTH the other players, let’s take this one step at a time.
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First step? A brief summary. Babbel is a language learning app that really excels at teaching grammar. That’s what they focus on, and that’s what they’re good at. I’ve already gone through a more detailed description in my Babbel review.
Next step? You guessed it: the languages offered by this app!
- Brazilian Portuguese
As you can see, Babbel doesn’t offer quite the options that Duolingo and Rosetta Stone do. But you know what? There’s a reason for that.
Babbel and Duolingo
Honestly, Babbel and Duolingo aren’t really very similar. I mean, they can both be accessed by both a mobile app and via desktop, and they both address beginner concepts. And…that’s exactly where the similarities end. And because they’re so different, it’s a totally valid option to have both resources complement each other for a more well-rounded knowledge of your language.
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Where Duolingo teaches beginner words and phrases, Babbel teaches grammar from beginner to advanced. Where Duolingo is free as a bird, Babbel comes at a price.
As you can see, Duolingo and Babbel are meant to do very different things, and are therefore either appropriate for very different kinds of people, or better used together for a more solid kick-off to learning a new language.
Babbel and Rosetta Stone
Babbel and Rosetta Stone are pretty different, too. Yes, they’re both paid services, for example, but not only does Babbel offer you the opportunity to pay for one month at a time (as opposed to paying a lump sum before doing anything), but it’s also a bit cheaper. A year of Rosetta Stone sets you back $179, while a year of Babbel is only $83.40. In case your math skills aren’t that great, a year of Rosetta Stone is more than double the price of a year of Babbel.
With Rosetta Stone, however, there are some money hacks: you can opt for a very short 3-day free trial, and you can also see if you can find somebody who’s selling the disk set for $20 or so (make sure you have a computer with a disk reader before going down this route, because most modern computers don’t!).
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The other similarity between Babbel and Rosetta Stone is how heavily both drill concepts into your brain. Again, this is great for first-timers, but it’s absolutely exhausting if you can figure it out the first or second time you see the concept.
Besides the prices, Rosetta Stone is more similar to Duolingo: beginner lessons available in a whole bunch of languages. On the contrary, Babbel sticks to grammar and can carry you from beginning to end.
And again, it’s also totally valid to use both together. Babbel doesn’t have the immersion-type learning that Rosetta Stone offers, and Rosetta Stone doesn’t really touch base on any grammar. They’re both paid services, but if you’re financially able to consider it, it’s definitely an option.
Babbel vs Rosetta Stone vs Duolingo
As you can tell, these 3 apps all serve very different purposes. The questions you need to ask yourself are how much money you’re able to spend, what’s your experience level, what language are you interested in learning, and what exactly you want to learn (be it basic vocab, conversational fluency, or grammar).
Once you answer these questions for yourself, it should be pretty obvious which resource will work for you. And if not, remember I’ve discussed all three in their very own reviews: Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Duolingo.
And if none of them seem like a really great fit, that’s perfectly fine, too! You know why? Because there are more than 3 language learning resources available. Check here for a running list of resources (updated all the time)!